Sunday, May 25, 2014

questions don't hurt ignorance does

"questions don't hurt; ignorance does," geri said, on the 80's tv show the facts of life


a little factoid...she was the first person with a disability to have a reoccurring role on television.


yes, the sentiment is very true, but for this momma, it was a question that hurt too.


after dinner last night,  B hung fluttered around the kitchen nonstop. she had me as a captive audience and she knew it.  i was going to be stuck hand washing a mountain of dinner dishes for at least the next 40 minutes. i was all hers.


naturally, she asked to help.


it is not always easy to allow her to help. her kind of help is not always helpful. she has a rare inherited recessive gene that is causing  degeneration or loss of nerve cells in the part of her brain that controls muscle coordination.


the common name for this condition is ataxia. that means she has tremendous issue with balance, hearing, eye movements, speaking, eating and swallowing, writing, walking, and even standing still. she cannot control voluntary muscles well at all.




another fact tidbit: Cerebral Palsy is a form of ataxia.(boy, can you see the teaching theme in this post?)


she asked to help with the dishes. cringe. i thought, not unless everything was non breakable, kid. she does not yet understand she is different or moves differently than others. she is almost completely clueless.


so, she is always hurt when i tell her no, thank you, i've got this.


last night i did not say no, instead, i held out a dishcloth to wipe down the stove and counters. she loves to help and feels loved when you allow her to.


ok, now she feels loved and has my undivided attention.


here it comes! one of those innocent questions that steal the very breath from my body. she looked deep into my eyes with those dark almond eyes of hers clouded with sadness, "mom? why do people treat me like i am stupid?"


rats! not this question again. she has asked it before. several times. each time, i have tried to be truthful, yet gentle. in the past, i have told her, "it is because you are still learning a new language." or "it's because you are older than your classmates, so they assume you are delayed." or even, "it is because you are hard of hearing. often deaf people are thought to be dumb because of the way they speak." we never talked about how being treated like that makes her feel. i can see when she is hurt. but, she didn't have the words to process all this before.


i tried to advocate by calling the school and requesting while B was going to be absent to attend her great-grandmother's funeral, could the school social worker address her class about how B has a disability, but she is very bright? she should not be treated like a baby by her peers. they complied and i have not had this question asked of me since.


i thought i'd solved that issue. guess i was mistaken. half truths are never very good at staving off growing up. the hurt obviously remains.


so, stealing my breath away, i flinched again. ouch! someone must be treating her poorly still.


i turned off the water. alas, the dirty dishes will still be there tomorrow. B needs the truth right now.


i brought her to the computer and played that facts of life episode on youtube.


we talked for a while about how geri was smart, talented, could drive a car, work, love, have friendships...everything everyone else does. she just looks and sounds different. that is where the differences end.


B asked if she was different like that. i then chose to tell her about ataxia. i did not tell her that it most likely will put her in a wheelchair. i did not tell her that she may have a shorter life. those conversations are better left for when she is much older. wait? is that considered a half truth too?? darn! this is going to have to be revisited. sigh...she doesn't need hard news just now. let's let her own her disability first.


i told her that ataxia is her disability and everyone has something that is hard for them to do, even if it is not obvious to others.


it is my hope that she learns how to advocate for herself and educate the ignorant world about how people living with disabilities are not to be pitied, babied, ignored, stared at, or treated any differently than typical humans.


i hope that her brave and serving heart will make a difference changing the stigmas associated with people like herself.


that brings us to this afternoon. i asked her to come to my room for another talk. i try to check in with my kids the day after a heart-to-heart, to see if they have any more questions or need help processing the discussion. 


i asked her if she remembered our talk last night. and she said, "of course, mom. that was only a day ago," with a silly teenage eye roll/giggle combo.


i asked her why she thought i had showed her the tv episode. she said, "to teach that people with disabilities should teach people that they are no different."


smart girl. yup. "ok, miss B...do you think instead of letting people treat you like you are stupid, you could teach them and de-stigmatize ataxia?"


her eyes grew round and she sucked in her breath, holding it for a moment. with that surprised look of realization dawning...she whispered excitedly to me, "mom!?  i could walk in the hearing walk this weekend to do that!"


yes, my love. you are brave and clever, and so willing to serve your world.


"what a great idea!" i told her. she had already asked to walk in the walk, but did not stop to think of WHY there was a walk4hearing in the first place. "that is exactly why they have these walks. to raise awareness, teach, advocate, and de-stigmatize."


when i asked her how she was going to raise money for the walk, she looked at me and deadpan answered, "beg for it?" then burst out laughing. oh, how i love her sense of humor! she truly is very funny.


i replied, "i think you have enough people who love you, that will give willingly. you will not need to beg."


she ran off, but came back just a moment later with pencil and paper, "who can i ask?" and proceeded to list off several family and friends.


"wait! first let's register you to participate!" i laughed.


if you are interested in supporting my brave, silly, amazing daughter this weekend...you may visit www.walk4hearing.org. click on donate and select find a walker. it is there you can enter her name and show her that advocating is rewarding and important.


want to know the best part of the last eighteen hours?


last night we were both hurt and sad. today, taking action by getting involved with a solution to the very problem that  hurt our feelings; has left us giddy and hopeful for the future.



DEAREST HEAVENLY FATHER, THANK YOU FOR REDEEMING THIS CHILD, FOR PLACING HER IN OUR HOME, AND FOR TRUSTING THAT WE WILL TRY TO DISCIPLE HER TO THE BEST OF OUR ABILITIES. SHE IS A JOY AND I REVEL IN YOUR PERFECT CREATION. I AM SORRY I AM NOT ALWAYS PATIENT AND KIND WHEN DEALING WITH HER UNIQUE NEEDS. IT IS A PRIVILEGE TO PARENT HER EVEN WHEN IT IS HARD AND PAINFUL. PLEASE USE HER TO INSPIRE YOUR EARTHLY REALM THAT YOUR CHILDREN WOULD LEARN FROM HER COURAGEOUS HEART. LET HER REFLECT YOUR GOODNESS AND PLANS THROUGH HER SPECIAL ABILITIES. I THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR TEACHING US THAT YOU WERE PERSECUTED FIRST, THAT YOU OVERCAME ALL TO REDEEM US, AND THAT YOU LOVE US THROUGH ALL OUR FRAILTIES AND SINS. THANK YOU FOR SHOWING US HOW TO PRAISE GOD THROUGHOUT ADVERSITY. THANK YOU MOST OF ALL, HOLY SPIRIT, THAT YOU WOULD SHOW US HOW TO FIND JOY THROUGH OUR PAIN. AMEN.






Wednesday, April 30, 2014

school lifestyles part 1: S's story

september started and S and B went back to public school. both girls adjusted after a fashion. the long days were exhausting for their poor bodies and the influx of information presented in a new language was mentally exhausting. needless to say, afternoons here were rough on B and the family. many Calgon moments for me in those first few months. where is Calgon to take me awaaaaaay? retired maybe?


things are getting much better with her lately. more on her transformation later. shout out...Praise God!



S positively loves school. she is in vocational training school at the local high school. she still cannot grasp money concepts well, but has mastered first grade reading. we had wondered if she would ever read. mastery of ANYTHING is encouraging to us.


she will plateau at about third grade equivalency, the experts say. reading is helping her to learn English, too. verbally, things are challenging. she only understands incoming language equivalent to that of a 2 year 9 month old. yet, she has outgoing, or speaking, capacity of a 4 year 1 month old. at least that is where she scored a year ago. i would not be surprised if it has changed a little.


so much is lost in translation in our household. sometimes it is hilarious. sometimes it is frustrating. i am sure my forehead is flattening out due to all the head smacking and rubbing i do.  want to know how i know i do it so often? now B has absorbed that mannerism and whacks herself several times a day.


but school, S thrives in. she was promoted to ninth grade and earned high honors grades. woo woo. she was tickled to see her name in the local paper announcing the honor. so far she has shredded paper at Town Hall, worked in her class's student bake/snack shop, and she has worked at B's school book fair.  fun!




one of her favorite things is the unified school programming. the basketball is affiliated with Special Olympics. seven local school's special education classes participate. the teams consist of a handful of students with special needs.




additionally, there are typical student athletes that pass and dribble the ball, but are not supposed to shoot the ball. they try to leave scoring to the players with special needs. S has come home with several medals from Special Olympics. the games are fun to watch and imagine our surprise to find our friend refereeing the tournament. that was neat.




there is also unified art, taught by a friend of ours. how blessed are we-to have S connected in several areas of her community. we know her art teacher through her involvement at our local CSA, Grange, and library. her teaching is reaching our daughter.  i love seeing what S creates. our house is decorated by it. and recently, she has added a dog and bunny to her drawing repertoire. all of us gave her high praise for drawing new subjects. it used to be just flowers and bees.



this past week, i was asked to speak at the board of education meeting on behalf of the unified basketball program.
during my time to speak, i explained that S came to us as a severely delayed, fearful, tearful, and shy child.  this program helped her really break out of her shell. she used to be a "ghost" in our house, keeping to herself except for meals and tv. now she interacts and plays with us. she comes out of her room often. she used to use just one or two word phrases. last week she came home from school and told me how she fell at school and her teacher saved her-using three sentences! amazing!! talk about being social...when i pick her up from school, mainstream kids wave good bye calling her by name and sometimes offering a high-five. it makes me feel good knowing she has a safe and nurturing place to grow. 


i was told later, that many were misty eyed after i spoke. aw shucks.


next, several students were invited to share their experiences in winter school sports.
 
when the captain of the varsity basketball team spoke, he said, "i'd like to share with you about our basketball season, but first, i want to say S really impressed me. i had never participated in unified PE before, but this year i tried it. S was my partner the first day and was shy, but then after that, ran up to me every week excited and laughing." he went on to explain how much she changed him and how much she means to him. i was almost in tears.




next, the girls' varsity basketball captain took the microphone. she also started by acknowledging S. i was floored. those students were invited to speak about their teams. to take the time in front of dozens of busy people to first honor sweet S before reporting on their own teams was classy. i melted.




after we were all excused from that part of the meeting, several others came up to tell me their stories of S. 




later, i sat in my car stunned. i had been so concerned with how her community affected her that i missed how she would be impacting them. what a blessing to be shown a glimpse of her life. i marvel at how God placed her here. how different her life in China would have turned out.




here she is valuable. she is loved. she is worthy. she is growing. she is witnessing His great Love and Grace. she is redeemed.


THANK YOU LORD GOD. YOU ARE SO PERFECT. ALL YOUR PLANS ARE MASTERFUL. I MARVEL AT YOUR WISDOM. YOU GAVE THIS WORLD A POWERFUL GIFT WHEN YOU ADOPTED MY DAUGHTER. THANK YOU FOR LOVING HER AND ALLOWING HER A NEW LIFE WHERE SHE CAN BE LOVED AND REFLECT YOUR MIGHTY SOVEREIGNTY. PLEASE CONTINUE TO BLESS HER WITH YOUR SPIRIT SO THAT SHE MAY BLESS THE REST OF US IN HER VERY SPECIAL AND PRECIOUS WAY. I EXALT YOU JESUS FOR REDEEMING US ALL. AMEN.







 


Monday, March 24, 2014

cool summer camp

ahhh. it feels good to have love and support shared here again. thank you friends.

this past summer, we were blessed with a wonderful opportunity. our local children's hospital told us about a really neat summer camp for children with special needs. they teach children to ride two wheel bicycles. nearly 80% of participating children are riding independently after a one week camp. check it out and share it with your friends. they operate all over the united states.

learn to bike summer camp list of selected 2014 cities

sad problem was... it was not in our budget to have B and S participate. but our God is a Mighty One and showed us a fabulous kids' charity who stepped forward to gift the children the icanbike camp.

together with local police explorers (student police corp), firefighters, police officers and iCan Bike program representatives; they truly created a fun, relaxed, cohesive team to teach the kids. this is what it looked like...


B on an early stage bike.
 
they offer several bicycles with whatever adaptation the child might need extra assistance with. once a skill is mastered , the kids move up to another type of bike. eventually most graduate to the goal of two wheels.
 
the program creates a very calm environment, so children with sensory issues can learn free from too much extra input. there were several children with autism that had a rewarding experience. one of my hubby's friend's sons who has autism was in the camp too. we were glad to see a friend sharing the fun. small world.
 
they even ask that the mama-razzi stay outside to capture photographs. i sneaked a few INDOORS though!
 
once the kids master a tippy wheel thingy, they graduate to a typical two wheel bicycle with an adaptive handle for the trainer to help steer and offer counter balance.
 
S moved outside to the parking lot on day 3
 
 
 


B made it outside on the final day

but she never did master riding well enough to ride by herself. we did not expect she would. her neurological deficits are still too great to overcome.

i did not purchase a handle from the organizers! sure take one home to help her practice. uhhh... i considered it and then had this vivid daydream...

scene opens with me wrestling bicycles into the trunk of my sedan for three separate trips to the local elementary school parking lot. all to get four kids and their bikes and gear to an appropriate place for riding.

it is midsummer-the only time we might have to go on an outing of this caliber. i get to the lot with the last load, greeted by my excited children. i am now a sweat hog, but its ok, as long as the kids have fun. right?

i spend twenty blistering minutes baking on the asphalt assisting each kid into their safety gear. helmet, gloves, elbow, knee pads.

just as i hitch my back straight from the crippling bent position; i see B waiting patiently, longingly, asking me with her eyes...mom, please run beside my bike using that nifty handle thingy?

i consider that sweet face. her three sisters are happily laughing while zipping around the varying lots. how could i say no?

so i run a few laps behind her and as i start to see my heart pounding red in my eyes, it dawns on me why the icanbike program has teams of three volunteer spotters, per child, to switch off every few minutes.

i am by myself. i have already performed 45 minutes of heart pounding aerobic activity bringing the bikes to the lot and then had to use fine dexterity in a hatha yoga environment to dress them. it was turning out to be some nightmarish nod to a Twilight Zone-ish Combined Olympic event.

as i start to stagger into welcome darkness, i gasp, "everyone time to gooooo.

fade to black.

the next day's paper displays a front page picture of four children riding their bikes phalanx style down a rural highway, towing their heat stroke victim's mother's car behind.

i smartly snap back to my senses and graciously thank the lovely volunteer for the offer, but,  no, thank you. we will not be purchasing the adaptive handle for just $XX.00!

the last day of camp, S, was tearing around by herself. B had two to three seconds of independent riding at a time. they both did a great job. and had lots of fun.
 
the volunteers threw a graduation party for the kids. each one received a gold medal, goodie bag decorated by their team, and some cool stuff to go inside. they also were given commemorative tee shirts.

 S with her team
 
it takes a village of heroes to raise bike riders!
  
 
the program was well thought out, accommodating, and successful. thank you to all who volunteered your love, time, and cardiovascular systems to make it a great experience.

B even asked to try again this year. maybe God will find her another donation to make that possible. we'll see. she will most likely never learn to ride a typical bike, but she can keep trying. you go girl!







Sunday, March 23, 2014

flip for it

last spring i was having trouble processing all my stress. stress? you say? whatever could you mean? hahahhahhhaha...

we knew adopting older children would bring many challenges. heartache. tears. we knew it would highlight our lack of "parenting hurt children" tools. we knew it would affect our biological kids. extended family. friendships. we knew it would challenge our resources. money. time. patience. logistics.
 
some professionals have accused me of being starry-eyed, na├»ve, and ignorant of just how drastically things would change. that i should have known better. friends begged me not to adopt. some family members were less than supportive...one even telling us on Christmas Eve before we brought the kids home, "your lives are over."

i've got news for all of them. we were forewarned. we heard it. we ignored it all! so there!
 
nothing could tear us from the path God set us on. we walk this journey in complete and absolute Faith and Trust. He told us to do this. we were not trying to fulfill some egocentric need. we were not keeping up with the joneses. we were simply living in obedience to the Word.
 
have things been as bad as all those doomsday predictions? no, not really. far from it.

we have had copious amounts of laughter, joy, bonding, many blessings, and an exponential growth in love production.
 
but adoption is two sides of the same coin. you never know which side it will land on from day to day.
 
we have also had major issues with defiance, lying, retaliatory behaviors, self-punishment, very low self-esteem, and refusal to take care of personal hygiene.
 
news flash...all normal for kids with institutionalized backgrounds.

all of that combined with a father who works inhumane hours for an all but poverty level salary-thus leaving a mother to almost single parent with limited resources, two children that did not get along well at all, juggling three different schooling situations, and being tuned into the adoption community...made for a stressed out mom.

my "parent support" therapist, Mary, suggested i drop off the scene for a while. perhaps grieving all my blogging community's trials and tribulations was creating a more emotionally challenging environment than i could handle. and seeing that i had a great support in Mary, i didn't need to blog as an outlet.

i gave it a shot. i cut myself off from the blogging and things did get to a more manageable level. 
 
it was not my intention to cut our family off from those loved ones who stayed connected to us through our blog. i now see that ten months of no updates have left some wondering how we are. it was self preservation on my end, but almost mean to everyone else who loves us. i apologize.

things have been hard, will continue to be hard, and show no signs of miraculously becoming easy.

we didn't sign up for easy. we signed up to have our hearts broken as God's is, dying to our own selves to serve Him, and sacrificing the easy life for a better one.
 
does being hard have to mean that things are negative? NO WAY. right now i can hear giggling and fun coming from the children's room. i have had my most hurt kiddo curl up in my lap and quietly say, "mom? i feel safe here." we have had so many amazing blessings over the last ten months.

i will try to share them over the next several posts including many pictures and videos of our beautiful family.
 
so i am choosing to return to my blogging community. why now?
 
well most of the support i had last year has gone away. my beloved grandmother passed in may, my amazing therapist moved on, my support group fizzled, my marriage almost died (don't worry...we are reviving it and prognoses looks good), several friends lost touch, and the kids stopped going to all outside therapies of OT, PT, and speech therapy. those therapists were not only cheerleaders to the children, but an enormous part of my team. i grieve all these loses still. it was a tough year. i really could use an outlet to process my feelings again.

but the most important reason i resume my blog is out of love and respect for all of you whom have prayed and loved us through that connection. i hope to honor you and inspire you through our Faith walk.
 
i will do my best not to be a downer. i will vent. i will get preachy at times. i will share what some feel to be an invasion of my kids' privacy. i will be sporadic.
 
but i will also infuse this crazy life with humor and light. sharing as often as i can.

i do not know which side the coin will land on from day to day. but odds are in my favor that it will never be all bad or all good. if i just hang on to the next flip of that coin...things will change again.
 
He has not left us. He never will. He is faithful forever. we cling to that during the hardest times. it makes the good times all the sweeter.

LORD, EVEN THOUGH I AM HAVING TROUBLE PRAYING A LOT RIGHT NOW, PLEASE KNOW HOW MUCH WE LOVE AND HONOR YOU. HOW MUCH WE ARE THANKFUL FOR YOUR PROVISIONS. WE THANK YOU FOR CREATING AN AMAZING LIFE FOR US SO THAT WE MAY WALK THIS EARTH WITNESSING TO YOUR GREAT LOVE AND THAT OTHERS WOULD SEE OUR WORK AND PRAISE YOU FOR ALL ETERNITY. PLEASE BLESS ALL THOSE WHO READ THIS BLOG AND LOVE THEM AS THEY LOVE US. THROUGH HIS PRECIOUS AND HOLY NAME, JESUS CHRIST. AMEN.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

following suit

well it was B's turn at the end of April. she is officially a fourth grader at our local public school.

it was weeks of fighting the school system for appropriate placement. they wanted to pop her into sixth grade. she is only 11 and was learning first/second grade homeschool lessons for the last year.

although she can read on a second grade level, she has not yet mastered addition or subtraction. seems her orphanage taught math calcualtions from left to right. uh...trying borrowing and carrying moving left to right. it is near impossible.

so we compromised on fourth grade.

the night before her first day, she proudly packed her new backpack and i swear i am not lying...i have photos to prove it...she actually picked out a dress to wear. yes, she wore skinny jeans under it. but our little tomboy whom has refused to wear anything feminine at all since Gotcha, chose a dress. wouldn't even wear a nice baptism outfit, she wore corduroys of all things.
i didn't tell her it was a dress she chose. i just told her she looked nice and then pulled her three sisters aside and threatened bodily harm if they said anything about a dress OR skinny jeans to her face.



several things have been challenging. the LONG hours, the overwhelming work load, the hour+ homework every night, the "skipping" of at least two grade levels...

all adds up to some serious adjustments. we are working through them, but honestly? i am so tired. she has been in school two weeks and i am just blogging about it?

we have always had a homeschoolers' schedule. typical day: get up by 9ish, eat breakfast, work a few hours, only changing out of PJs if we are leaving the house, then free play the rest of the day. now i need to have them dressed, fed, and dropped off at school by 7:30 AM. the bus drops them back off smack in the middle of the other children's homeschool sign language and theater arts classes(try being in two different cities at the same time. they expect me to be houdini as well as mom of the year. thank God for grandmothers' help). 

then i am expected to have enough energy to do fourth grade homework when 4 days a week we leave just after the bus comes home for our 10+ therapeutic appointments per week and don't get home until after 7. kids are not fed until 8 and then there are showers, toothbrushing, lunch packing, therapeutic home program exercises, and snuggle time still to navigate through.

i am bushed.

B is bushed.

i know we will adjust(probably by the time school lets out for summer recess) and this will be looked back upon as a good thing.

BUT traditional school is hard for parents. i never knew! sorry to all my friends whom i have not sympathized with before. i am sorry now!

in two weeks we have had three separate fundraiser packets come home, a request for food donations for the PTO's staff appreciation luncheon(gasp! they don't expect me to join the PTO, do they?), PPT meetings, and on top of all these requests, i am supposed to be active in their homework too?

no one ever told me traditional school was MORE work than homeschooling. i have heard over the last eight years, "i could never homeschool...where do you find the time...they won't listen to me...wow, you must be really smart..." and so on.

uhhhh...i know we chose traditional school because it would be best for our adopted children, but ack! what about the poor parents? i have two different lifestyles that i am supposed to merge together.

good luck with that, i guess.

and the meltdowns. i won't even go there. but i will say this: we have spent hours dealing with meltdowns because the work is TOO HARD. of course it is too hard. she went from first/second grade work up to forth grade work expectations.

i try telling myself that it is an adjustment period. B will learn to deal with long hours and increased expectations and i will learn to be a PTO mom(retching sounds).  worst best case scenario. we go back to homeschooling.

so this post was intended to be a sort of coming out announcement. a "look who's going to school" post.

guess it is a bit whiny.

most importantly, does B like school?

if this conversation is any indication...

B: mom, i don't want to hurt your feelings or anything, but i like school better than i liked homeschool.

me: great honey!

voice in my head: oh rats. i don't like it better.

we'll see how much she likes it when it gets even harder. for now, i must consider it a blessing and keep moving forward. no one said this parenting stuff would be easy.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

we hit another biggie

big milestone today.

the year has been full of them.

but this one is a big first for our entire family.

S started school today. this marks her first day in an american school system and my first day having any of my children in a traditional school system ever. we have homeschooled since the beginning. i have never wanted school for my girls, but things change. life changes course and so must we.  

not sure that she knew what was happening as her English is still quite limited. i am sure E has explained to her in Chinese what school means, but i really don't know. S seemed unfazed by all the preparations. even picking out her outfit for her first day, she was devoid of any different demeanor than her usual. we walked into school, hand in hand, and she didn't seem nervous at all. 



at least this is not real school, i told myself. the program she is entering is special education geared towards disabled students. there is a successful work program in which the students are taught skills that will help them have a job in their adult years. many local businesses work with the school to provide an intern-like position in their company and the student may stay on in that position after "graduation." for example, there are a few grocery baggers and stock employees at our local supermarket.

it gives me peace to know that S might grow up to be semi independent.

right after we entered the classroom, a boy named david (adorable and lovable), invited her to join speech therapy in which they use iPads. i sat at a table on the other side of the room for moral support. the teacher came over a few minutes later and said, "well, she is comfortable. she just kicked off her shoes."

after speech, a girl named rae, took S by the hand and brought her to a large table. the three started working on a word puzzle. S seems to be higher functioning than the other two, but later some more kids came in and they seemed about her speed.

i had been there about thirty minutes, when the teacher invited me to hang out in the cafe the special ed students run for the staff and seniors with privileges. it is a cool program. the kids work with money, hone social skills, and learn basic cooking and baking. i think S will love it.

we headed back to see if she was ready to go home. nope. she wanted to stay. i told her i was leaving and she barely looked up from her puzzle and said, "bye bye." well then, this little birdie is ready for flying lessons i guess.

when i picked her up two hours later, she was playing on an iPad and had done some reading worksheets and worked in the cafe making egg and tuna salad for Friday teacher/staff lunch. her favorite part was drying dishes. we asked if she wanted to go back tomorrow and she said, "yes! i like-a schooolll." ok, we'll try again tomorrow. no fuss. no trauma. just peace. who knew?

while adopting back in 2011, shortly after we'd received her referral file, i spoke to the waiting child coordinator. she suggested  i speak to the doctor, who had traveled to China to interview and write an adoption file on S, to inquire if she would ever be independent. i told him that i didn't care if she'd be a doctor or lawyer, but wanted to know if she would be independent. he replied, "oh, that one will surprise you. she will be a doctor or lawyer. i don't know why i thought she was more delayed when i wrote her file."

we didn't put much stock in his opinion. only God knows what our true potential is. although, shortly after we got home from China, i knew we were dealing with severe delays and i suspected a genetic issue.

we searched high and low for a doctor who could do a psych exam in Mandarin. after eight months, we found one. nearby too. well, after a comprehensive neuro-psych evaluation, we have some answers.

we also searched for a genetic issue and lo and behold, we found a micro deletion on chromosome 6. it explains a lot. her depressed nasal bridge, the wide set eyes, her low muscle tone, tailbone shape, postnatal growth retardation, and most importantly-her intellect disorder.

yes, the neuropsychologist said her formal diagnosis is moderate mental retardation. we knew it, but it was harder to hear that we were right, than its all in your head.

the search is over. being right sucks, but it reminds me that what a friend once said was true. i am the premiere authority on my children. i know them better than anyone. why don't doctors take mothers' opinions and concerns seriously??

so that is what led us to school enrollment. we found that the same school that denied us special ed. last year, because we couldn't prove any real disability, has a wonderful program. we are starting slow, half days at first maybe working up to full days soon. hopefully S will thrive in that sort of environment. i know it will free us up to bond more. all i will have to do is love her. trying unsuccessfully to teach her was an issue for both of us.

now it looks like we won't have to worry. she will gain some sort of skill set and her potential is still yet to be reached. i Praise Him all day for allowing her a new life where she can be more than her circumstance.

LOOK WHAT YOU HAVE DONE, OH LORD! YOU RESCUED THIS CHILD FROM A TERRIBLE FUTURE AND PLACED HER IN YOUR FAMILY. YOU HAVE SEEN TO HER EVERY NEED. WHAT IS THERE TO FEAR? ALL HOPE IS IN YOU. I WAIT TO SEE THE WONDERFUL BLESSING YOU INTEND FOR HER. TOUCH THE PROFESSIONALS WHO WILL TEACH HER WITH KINDNESS AND WISDOM, SO THAT SHE MAY BE BROUGHT TO HER FULLEST POTENTIAL AND LIVE AS YOUR SERVANT FOR ALL HER DAYS. BLESSED BE YOUR MIGHTY NAME. AMEN. 



Friday, April 5, 2013

redemption is bittersweet

Gotcha has come and gone. we had been waiting for the moment, planning since the beginning to take the family to NYC every anniversary of Gotcha Day(day the adopted child is brought to the adoptive parents).

every year on our bio-daughters' birthdays, we would wake them up at midnight and carry them to our room. there my husband, the birthday girl, and i would curl up and listen as i recounted their birth story. after telling them and enjoying some snuggles, we would send that year-older-child back to bed with a sleepy grin upon their sweet face.

i placed emphasis on knowing how loved you are at the moment of your birth. no matter what happens in their lives, the last decade + has been the foundation of their being. i pray it carries them through those lonely times in life. that they understand that my love mirrors the Father's Love for us. if nothing else in life, they are loved.

when i started this tradition on their first birthdays, i never dreamed we would adopt two more daughters. i never stopped to consider how it would change our family. i just knew this was God's Will for us. we had more than enough love to give to more children. 

since coming home, we have had many struggles, growth, and joy.

i guess that is why i was surprised to hear B did not want to celebrate Gotcha Day in the way we had envisioned. Gotcha is the story of how she came to be in our family. how God had moved us all. how we all became who we are today.  

she stated so quietly that the day back in march, last year, was a sad one for her.

oof. mom takes one in the gut. how could i have been so blind? how could i have not thought about her feelings?

yes, they are happy to have us, but have been stripped of everything that made them them. names and friends, foods and culture. i'd be sad too. they do not understand their future if they hadn't come to us. they have this fantasy that their aged out friends went to japan. B has lots of friends living in japan. i think that might be "the old dog went to go live on a farm where it could run and play all day" thing.

i get it. she lost so much that day. although she was redeemed, delivered, rescued, and claimed by God that day, there is so much loss. it must be bittersweet.

i immediately asked her what she'd like to do that day instead. we could pretend it is not the anniversary or whatever she wanted. i just didn't want to be the cause of her pain. i love her so much.

she hugged me and asked if we could just have a normal family day? maybe do something fun as it was also S's Gotcha day too. just not too big of fuss.

we started off with normal OT appointments, lunch at a Chinese buffet that had REAL Chinese food, and then surprised everyone with a 3D movie. we did not talk much about that day one year ago. we just celebrated our family.

whew! we passed that milestone.

then last night happened.


B follows me around like a shadow. last night was no different. she was speaking of her teacher back in China as E came in and said, "is that the same teacher who had an abortion?" i almost fell over. danger. danger. volatile conversation approaching...
 i stepped in and asked what that was about. B explained her teacher in China had had an abortion.
i asked if the teacher was married.
"yes."
i asked if she had a child already.
"yes."
well then, there you have it. i explained to them that in some provinces some are not allowed more than one child. i explained that the teacher could be fired from her job and her husband too if they did not abort. or they might face heavy fines. you either abort or the alternative is to send the baby to an orphanage.
  
B then said with a huge smile while holding up the "ah ha!" finger, satisfied detective style, (and this broke my heart), "oh! maybe that is what happened to me."
oh my sweet girl. she could not begin to imagine that she was not sent to an orphanage. she was one of those "not meant to be found."
i will let her have this new discovery for now. i cannot tell her the truth. her self esteem is already so low. how could i ever hurt such an already hurt little girl?
there is a piece of me that feels guilty for not correcting her. her story is her own. someday she will want to fill in those pieces. it is important to know your history.
i know this all to be true. remember? the birthday story tradition?
i'm doing the best i can. my therapist, who works for an adoption agency, said to me today, that i did ok. we give children appropriate information for their ages.  
my soul weeps for this beautiful girl. she is so pretty and smart and funny. i am proud to call her my daughter. someday she will find out the truth and be broken. i cannot protect her forever.
after she realized that might be the reason she was an orphan. E and her went on and on about maybe finding the birth mother and what if the birth mother and i each held one of B's arms and tugged her back and forth shouting "she's mine!" they laughed and laughed, while i inwardly cringed. they thought it was all so silly. a game even. how innocent they still are. cringe.
i ended this fantasy factory by stating, "well, she is an American citizen now, her birth mom cannot have her back." and also tossing over my shoulder, "sorry kiddo. you are stuck with me as your mom from here on out."
E walked off still giggling over the image of the two moms battling, leaving B behind with me. i was hoping she'd follow her sister and let me have a good cry. and oh please child, please don't start asking questions that will further reduce me to a puddle on the floor. 
but then that sweet kid leaned over my back(during the whole conversation, i was installing a new toilet seat of all things) and hugged me hard and said, "mom, you are the best mom i have ever had. i love you."
i couldn't even speak over the lump in my throat.
yes, redemption is bittersweet.